Whether it’s from straining, childbirth, age, an injury, or surgery, pelvic floor disorder can feel physically painful and emotionally isolating. Conditions like urinary and fecal incontinence are more common than you might think, and they’re very treatable. Here are some of the common ways you can start to take control of your pelvic floor disorder!
Pelvic Floor Issues
Roughly one in three women is affected by pelvic floor disorders leading to urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or pelvic discomfort. It is not uncommon for women with pelvic floor disorders to experience frequent urinary tract infections.
Common Conditions Related to Pelvic Floor Disorder
- Frequent or urgent urination
- Leaking urine when laughing or coughing
- Painful urination
- Pressure and pain in your vagina, bladder, or rectum
- Vaginal bulging (pelvic muscles weaken, causing the pelvic organs to drop into the vagina, causing a bulge)
Some of the more advanced conditions are:
- Fecal incontinence – leakage of feces due to the inability to control bowel movements
- Overactive bladder – the urge to urinate becomes challenging to control, causing leakage during both day and night
- Pelvic floor dysfunction – the inability to relax the pelvic floor muscles for natural bowel movements often leading to constipation, urge incontinence (sudden need to urinate), and pain
- Pelvic organ prolapse – the pelvic muscles cannot support the organs in the pelvic region
- Rectovaginal fistula – an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina causing leakage of bowel into the vagina
- Recurrent urinary tract infections – persistent infections in the kidneys, bladder, or urethra
- Urethral diverticulum – a pouch that forms along the urethra, often filling with urine and leading to infection
- Urinary incontinence – involuntary leakage of urine
- Urinary retention – the inability to fully empty the bladder
- Vaginal mesh complications – any abnormality resulting from placement of mesh after transvaginal surgery such as bleeding, infection, or pain
- Vesicovaginal fistula– an abnormal connection between the vagina and bladder causing involuntary urine leakage
Treating Pelvic Floor Disorder with Physical Therapy
When the pelvic floor muscles are too tight or too weak, they can cause incontinence or even pain. Physical therapy is one of the ways to take charge of your pelvic health. Specially trained physical therapists can provide pelvic floor dysfunction treatments, including bowel and bladder dysfunction, pelvic pain, abdominal/ organ conditions, pelvic bones, hip pain, and low back/sacral and coccygeal disorders.
Using the latest technology advances, these physical therapists can apply targeted rehabilitative techniques, including pelvic floor therapy, computerized biofeedback, and strengthening and relaxation techniques. Their goal is to help women with pelvic floor disorders to relieve their discomfort and improve their daily living quality. Pelvic physical therapy is covered by insurance, although coverage may vary.
You may be trained to practice pelvic floor exercises regularly at home to improve your bladder or bowel control, reduce the risk of prolapse, and increase your quality of life. Here, the pelvic floor and how to exercise these muscles is explained:
Treating Pelvic Floor Disorder with Medication
The goal of treatment for pelvic floor disorder is to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. After your doctor cannot identify the specific cause, your treatment plan’s focus will be managing the symptoms and pain.
Your doctor may recommend several medications to treat your condition, such as:
- Pain relievers – Over-the-counter pain remedies such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, or aspirin may provide partial relief from your pelvic pain. However, a prescription pain reliever may be necessary. Pain medication alone, however, rarely solves the problem of chronic pain.
- Antibiotics – If your pelvic pain stems from an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
- Hormone treatments – If pelvic pain is experienced simultaneously with your menstrual cycle, the pain may be related to the hormonal changes that control menstruation and ovulation. Doctors often prescribe hormonal medications or birth control methods to manage the pain.
- Antidepressants – Even if symptoms of depression are not present, your doctor may opt to treat your pelvic main with an antidepressant. Some types of antidepressants can be helpful for chronic pain and have pain-relieving effects.
Treating Pelvic Floor Disorder with Surgery
If non-surgical therapies do not resolve your pelvic floor disorder symptoms, or for more complex pelvic organ prolapse conditions, robotic-assisted surgery may be recommended. Usually, surgery is recommended after more conservative options have been exhausted.
- Transvaginal – Implanted surgical mesh made of synthetic polypropylene reinforces the weakened vaginal wall.
- Open abdominal – A large incision is made either from the belly button down to the upper pelvic zone or from the outer left pelvic area across the abdomen to the outer right pelvic area.
- Laparoscopic – This minimally invasive technique uses a thin, flexible tube with a video camera on the end that is inserted through tiny incisions near the belly button. The uterus is removed through the tube or vagina. This type of procedure provides improved recovery with less pain, less bleeding, and faster recovery.
- Hysterectomy – Removal of the uterus
- Sacrocollpopexy – Reconstructive surgery to repair vaginal prolapse
- Sacral Urethropexy – Correcting the uterine prolapse following a hysterectomy
Many underlying issues may be causing your pelvic floor disorder, but we hope you’ve found this information about possible treatments helpful. Nothing is more important than your health. If you have any questions about the incontinence supplies or catheters we offer to help manage your symptoms, give us a call, and one of our Product Experts will be happy to help guide you through your purchasing experience.